my Betta is acting strange!

  • #1
he keeps jumping up onto my filter which has about maybe 10mm water above it! he just stays there for ages. I know he's a labarinth fish, but he really does sit there for a long time. can anyone help me?? he's my first Betta and I want him to be happy.
  • #2
Sounds like you water parameters are out of whack. What are they?
  • #3
HI there, & welcome to the forum. I'm sorry your little one isn't feeling well. :/

When is the last time you performed a water change? I agree, it sounds like it could be a water parameter issue.

Also, what temperature is the water, & do you have any aeration? Cold water will make them listless, but warm water (they like it at about 80) doesn't hold as much oxygen, so they will end up breathing at the top more if there isn't enough air.
  • #4
welcome to fishlore!! can you give us some specs on your tank? size, filter, heater, bubble wands, toys, plants etc? and of course as others have said, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are a must check for us to give any information....hope he does ok!!
  • #5
I've heard of Bettas who liked to sit on a leaf or something above water. But, can you describe your setup? What kind of filter do you have? I can't picture how a fish could jump onto the filter...
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Thanks for your replys, you were all so quick! unfortunatly, he died around 11pm last night. along with 4 of my other fish. i'm not sure of the specs of the tank, my partner deals with all that. but the temprature stays at a steady 15 degrees c. I have 2 different filters, again my partner deals with them. I have a horrid feeling they have finrot because its happened to my fish before when i've brought a new one into the comunity.
  • #7
I'm afraid that might be your problem, bettas are tropical fish who need temperatures between 78-82F, believe that's 25-27C
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
gah, I was supposed to type 25 not 15! (i'm at work and knackered from staying up with my Betta) but i'm going to redo my entire tank set up just incase it was something he didn't like.
  • #9
I'm sorry about your betta. What other fish are in the tank?? This could also have something to do with it...
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
5 neon tetras, 3 pleckys, 4 (very short finned) guppies, and 1 male molly (only because he was being picked on in my inlaw's tank) there was no fin nipping, I kept an eye out for the first 4 days just to be sure.
  • #11
I'm sorry you lost your betta, it's so sad to lose a fish.
If you choose to get another, I'd suggest a tank of it's own, with him jumping like that, maybe he wasn't happy with company. Too bad they can't talk and just tell us what's wrong.

Wait, you lost 4 other fish too? Definitely check your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, that's always a good place to start.

What size tank and what kind of plecos?
  • #12
Sorry about your losses. Since so many fish died at once there's definitely a problem, either with the conditions or else a disease. A bit more info would big is the tank, & the parameters Lucy asked for. Are the remaining fish showing any symptoms of anything? You mentioned you thought there might be finrot? Do any of the fish have shredding fins? If so they need to be treated for that...however, I don't think finrot would kill so many fish so suddenly, and you definitely would have noticed your Bettas fins getting smaller & smaller long before it actually killed him...
  • #13
The poor little guy.
As 0morrokh said, there is definitely something wrong in that tank of yours... do any of the remaining fish have any fluffy white matter on their fins, or chunks/pieces missing from their fins? If so, I would treat with MelaFix or something similar right away (provided there are no other labyrinth fish in there... if so, don't do it.)
If your tank is at 25c then it is only at 77F... I would warm it up to 28.3-28.9c, or 83-84F (again, if it's fin rot.) Though, I don't know the first thing about Mollys, I don't know what their requirements are. :/
  • #14
I'm sorry you lost your fish...If you decide on another Betta in the future they are really happier when kept alone...
  • #15
Welcome to Fishlore.

I'm sorry that you lost your Betta and other fish. :'(
  • #16
Well if 3 pleckys means 3 plecos and all those others either you need to have one HUGE tank or your tank is hugely overstocked. Plecos need a lot of room and you did not specify what type of plecos. Also I know you said that the neons did not fin nip but they are famous for it and you may not have seen what was going on at night as a lot of time the mischief goes on when the lights are off. I am sorry but the fish you had in there with that betta were not compatible with him at all. That combined with the fact that it was borderline cold for him probably had him unhappy. But the thing that probably got him in the end was the low temperature combined with water quality problems due to overstocking. Plecos are huge bioload contributors and would necessitate many more water changes to keep the water quality up plus many more instances of gravel care. How often do you vacuum the gravel and do substrate maintenance?

Also what and how much do you feed the fish and what were you feeding the betta and how much? Some of these are the questions we need answers to to help you find out what actually happened and if there is something to be done for the rest of the fish involved.

I am so sorry you lost the fish, but you need help with this tank or you will probably lose the rest of the fish in there.

  • Thread Starter
  • #17
I have some good news, and some bad news, but first I wanna thank everyone for trying to help me!! my fish have stopped dying, turns out my partner left the tank to establish for a little too long and the bacteria died!! but they've stopped dying now!!
to answer a few questions, its a HUGE tank! 90 letre I think!! (sorry can't spell today lol!) but yeah, the temp is now a toasty 26 degrees, and all my fishys are getting along.
can't wait to get another Betta, but I think I will take peoples advice and maybe get him a nice big tank of his own.
  • #18
I'm glad you got things straightened our, it's so hard to lose out fin babies. I'm not sure what you mean by 'left the tank to establish for a little too long'.

Good call on the betta having it's own tank, they have wonderful personalities. What size tank are you thinking of getting him? I'd suggest a minimum of 5g, mine's in a 10 gallon and she loves zipping around, such fun to watch!

Good luck and don't forget to post some pics when you get set up.
  • #19
I have some good news, and some bad news, but first I wanna thank everyone for trying to help me!! my fish have stopped dying, turns out my partner left the tank to establish for a little too long and the bacteria died!! but they've stopped dying now!!
to answer a few questions, its a HUGE tank! 90 letre I think!! (sorry can't spell today lol!) but yeah, the temp is now a toasty 26 degrees, and all my fishys are getting along.
can't wait to get another Betta, but I think I will take peoples advice and maybe get him a nice big tank of his own.

90 litre is about 25gal... A pleco needs something like 75gal, but for 3 I'd say a 100gal! My advice is to take back the plecos and replace them for a bristlenose pleco.

When Betta are on their own, they turn from a fish swimming around to an underwater puppy! They are so great - extremely large personality coupled with extremely large fins!
  • #20
I'm sorry to hear that you lost your fish. I wouldn't add any more until you know what the problem was, and get a test kit to check the water conditions...ammonia, nitrite, nitrate... and they are in check. We have the API master test kit...most people here recommend it. I hope if you do get a betta again you put it in its own tank like everyone here has already said We just got a betta and he is one of my favorite fish already. Good luck with you tank and welcome to fishlore!
  • #21
My son came home from school in Dec 2012 with a (really) dark blue (almost black) male Veiltail betta as a gift exchange from a classmate. We were instantly thrown into the world of pet ownership (to our dismay), but at least a fish seemed simple. My son named him Finlee. He was still in his pet store "cup" and came with a container of betta fish pellets (several pellets were at the bottom of the cup) and a bottle of dechlorinator.

Finlee came from a PetMart (only fish store left in our area). We got him a 0.5 gallon tank, some gravel, a SpongeBob ornament, and some betta plant bulbs. Between the employees at the store and several websites, no one seems to agreed on how often/how much to feed him so we settled on one pellet twice per day. The tank gets a 100% water change weekly. That is the extent of the care that Finlee has received for the las 17 months. We grew attached to him. His behavior was delightful and fun, even resembling a dog at times (showing excitement, having staring contests, making bubble nests, etc.

Here's what has been happening recently: he floats idle (various places in the tank) even when we wiggle fingers in front of him (he is so still I wonder if he's still alive! ): in fact as we watched him a little tonight, he started to sink without fin/tail movement!); he doesn't flare anymore (I can't tell if he has fin rot because he doesn't, but I think his tail and ventral fins are smaller than 5 months ago-I have a pic); he seems disinterested in the food pellets that used to have him darting around like an excited puppy; he seems to have lost weight; no more bubble nests, just a smattering of bubbles around the edge of the tank; I can't tell if his color has changed (he's so dark and won't flare).

No one at PetMart told us anything specific. In fact, I think they only said to change the water "weekly". They did not mention: 1. Neither the Nitrogen cycle (which I have since read about) nor testing the water for the analyte levels; 2. Testing the water pH; 3. Needing a filter; 4. Needing a heater (or even a stable temperature range); 5. Adding salt to the tank at anytime; 6. Having a "first-aid kit" on hand should anything be needed.

Please forgive the length of this post. The happiness of my 9 yr old son is hanging in the balance.

I'm completely new to this forum. In fact this is the first forum I've ever posted on (my knowledge of protocols is nonexistent). I searched several threads here and on other websites before my head started to spin with the possibilities. I'm afraid I'll wake up tomorrow and it'll be too late!

Other sites suggested a mirror next to the tank to simulate another fish. So I did that. I also immediately changed his tank water (100% like I've always done with room temp water already dechlorinated). Last Sunday, my son was sick and I forgot to change the water. We've also been experiencing record high temps here in Southern CA, but the house has been controlled to the 70s. The tank is located on the island counter in our kitchen (a hub of activity during parts of the day).

I'm looking for for suggestions that will not involve hundreds of $$ (if possible).

  • #22
Welcome to FishLore!

Thanks for caring enough about Finlee to be concerned and give such an in-depth explanation. It helps to give us all the details. So, here's my two cents:

I sincerely hope that, as bad as it might sound, Finlee is just depressed. The reason that this is my hope is because it is an easy(ish) fix. As you mentioned in your post, Finlee has a lot of personality. They are actually very intelligent - bettas can even be taught to do tricks!!! Because of their intelligence, they need stimuliI and variation. Here's what I would do -

Give him a home that is bigger -- he needs some territory to explore. A 0.5 gallon tank, while much better than the cup he came home in, is still cramped quarters for a betta. This does not mean you have to spend hundreds, though! My personal recommendation is to go back to PetSmart, and they have a 2.6 gallon glass cube TopFin that would make a great upgrade for him. Many times they have it on sale for $40. It comes with a light and a great little filter that is nice and silent.

If you have a filter & heater, you can move the heater over to the new aquarium. If not, bettas really need heaters - they want to be at a consistent 80 degrees optimally. Once again, a small heater for that size aquarium is not going to break the bank - you can find one for under $20. Don't get one that sets the temp to 78 - it's better than nothing, but I recommend one you can adjust to get to that sweet spot he'll be happy with. The filter can be moved over for a while to allow the beneficial bacteria time to transfer over. (I saw you mentioned that you hadn't known about the need of one before, but I didn't see if you actually had one.)

Get him some more betta-safe decorations. Maybe a couple of small live plants, some silk plants, or some other figures that don't have any sharp edges. When you transfer him over, use some of the water from your existing tank so it's not as much of a shock. Speaking of shock, I do not recommend 100% water changes -- it can be a real jolt for him. I do 35% water changes twice a week, and that works great for me in that tank. Make sure you are using a good water conditioner as you mentioned.

If you go with the aquarium I mentioned, the filter is great --- it is adjustable and has what's called a spray bar to diffuse the output --- bettas don't like a really strong current.

Get him some food variety as well -- bettas love bloodworms!!! There are freeze-dried or frozen at PetSmart. Omega one also makes a good pellet or flake that you can try.

If you use a mirror, do it for about half an hour a day... it gives him the opportunity to get some flare-time and exercise, but it's not too much to the point that he's exhausted and feeling threatened all the time.

Ok, I apologize for the data-dump of information, but those are the recommendations that initially come to mind. Once you get him a new home and a good maintenance routine with some nice decorations, I believe he'll be a happier fish. Then if he seems to slow down in the future, mix things up --- sometimes all it takes is moving the decorations around, or placing something colorful and intriguing outside his tank for him to check out!

P.S. -- a turkey baster (dedicated to his tank only, don't use one from the kitchen) is a great way to do those water changes. Use it to vacuum out any detritus on the bottom of the tank.

Best of luck with Finlee... I hope everything works out!!!!
  • #23
I agree with utkgreg. However if you ever get the chance to go to a Petsmart then I would recommend the 10 gallon starter kit by Grreat choice. It comes with the tank (obviously), hood with two incandescent lights and a filter. All of this is only around 30 dollars so even though it's a little less stylish it is very affordable and will give him his own little mansion to explore, just make sure to check that there are no cracks in the glass so unlike me you won't end up having to drive all the way back and get processed haha. Hope he gets better!
  • #24
Welcome to FishLore!

You received some great advice above. I Have my Betta in a 6.6 gallon bookshelf tank. They used to sell them at Petco, but I didn't see any last time I was there, so I don't know if the still have them.

Although utkgreg gave great advice, I do want to point out that a betta would prefer a tank of at least 5 gallons (although 2.5 is acceptable) and it is much easier to find an adjustable heater for a larger tank. Once you get Finlee into a larger tank, you'll need to get the tank cycled. Since you already have the fish, you have two choices, daily 50% water changes until the tank cycles (approx. 6 weeks), or you can fill the new tank, let it run for 24 hours, then pour a bottle of SafeStart in the tank and add Finlee at the same time. Then you do nothing but feed Finlee for 14 days. On day 14 test and if all worked've cycled. (BTW all this assumes you do not have a filter in the current tank)

Also, when you switch tanks it is important to have the new tanks water and the old tanks water at the same temperature. Then once Finlee is in the new tank, slowly (maybe 1 or 2 degrees every 4 hours, or slower) raise the temp of the new tank.

Best of luck and feel free to ask any additional questions you may have,
  • #25
Thank you for the fast responses.

Finlee has survived the night, but remains the same. I left a mirror all night next to his tank, but he would have been in the dark for several hours. I've moved his tank to be next to me in the family room.

Some info I didn't include (as brought up in your responses): we have added no filters, heaters or anything else. We've not changed our routine or his setup since he was brought home. The plant bulbs we bought have grown into betta-safe plants that I have regularly "pruned" as I've been changing the water. The plants have, at times, been thick enough to offer a sort of hiding place. To anchor the plants, there is a layer of gravel on the bottom of the tank that gets rinsed every week with the water change.

You've given me some hope for an easy solution. My fear now is that I'll spend the $ on the upgrades and he turns out to be sick and won't make it. I guess we just have to think positive. I had come to realize that we weren't giving Finlee as much "face-time" as we had when he first came home.

As far as cycling a new tank: daily 50% water changes seems excessive (we're in another drought year in CA). Without a filter in our current tank, is the SafeStart/14 day test a good way to go? Are we stil talking about a daily water exchange? I probably need to read the Nitrogen Cycle again (Sat night @ 10pm is not my optimal info absorption time ).

Pic of Finlee taken last night. For some reason, it is inverted.

I just looked over at Finlee and he was actually swimming! For a moment anyway. Now what time does PetMart open......
hopeful fish
  • #26
SafeStart is a great way to go!!!

If I were you, this is what I'd do:

1) Perform 50% daily water changes on the .5 gallon until he has a new home. One reason for his attitude lately is probably terrible water quality. I'd also invest in Prime by Seachem (a water conditioner), because it will keep his ammonia down.

2) Get a bigger tank. You could go for a kit (be sure to read the reviews, first), or make your own. I'd get at least 5 gallons, but he'd be a happy fish in a 10.

3) Get a filter and heater. The Aqua Clear 20 is a great filter that is also affordable (~$20), and Ehiem makes a good heater (~$22).

4) Cycle that tank!! Tetra SafeStart will definitely be a good way to go, especially in a drought. I'd only use it without water changes in a 5+ gallon tank, though. I'm afraid that ammonia would climb too quickly in anything smaller.

Even if he is sick, being in a bigger, cycled tank will do wonders for his health. If he is still acting funny after all these upgrades, then there might be some aquarium salt or something involved, but no meds necessary until he's in his proper environment.

If I were you, even if you can't get the heater and filter at the drop of a hat, get the tank ASAP. This will help with water quality a TON, and he can live in there a few days before the rest of the stuff gets to you
  • #27
Yeah I'm no pro but I think probably what happens is ammonia builds up over the course of a week in that little .5g tank then, all at once, it is removed. This constant change in water conditions will likely slowly wear on a fish. I'd say it's pretty amazing it took him a whole 17 months but then again fish are pretty amazing creatures

That's why cycling, while hard work in the short run, actually makes maintenance easier in the long-haul. There will be no more weekly exchanging of all water, rinsing and cleaning everything and returning to its original state.

Once a week, you'll remove a small portion of the water (25-30% I think is probably fair if she upgrades to a 2.5 or 5 gallon maybe?) and replace it with fresh water while vacuuming any nastiness out of his gravel.

It just takes a minute to get there. And it can take a little bit of work in the beginning but SafeStart is really the answer, at least I can say it was for me. But it will make your life easier once you've gotten through it to have a fully cycled tank.

You do need a filter though, I would think, there needs to be a nice, porous surface for your good nitrifying bacteria to grow on since they are the heart of your cycle. Some will grow on your gravel if you don't rinse it every week and just lightly vacuum with the turkey baster but your cycle will be much more stable and better sustained if you have some kind of filter media for it to grow on.

I know the pros here can make a recommendation for a little filter for smaller aquariums that can hold your good bacteria.
  • #28
Thank you all again for your help and advice...but sadly it was not meant to be. Finlee passed on this afternoon. I got to PetCo. Priced some stuff. Bought a container of freeze-dried bloodworms in an effort to get Finlee to eat...he didn't. I guess it was just his time, but he declined just in this last week. I haven't told my son yet. Don't know if we'll dive (pun?) right back into owning another fish or not. If we do, I'm going to study all your advice and try things differently.

Thanks once more.
Nora B
  • #29
I'm sorry Finlee passed on but I bet he had a better life than nearly all bettas sold today. I hope you do get another one.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app
  • #30
And oh yea, most bettas have a live span of 2-4 years

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app
  • #31
Sorry to hear about the loss of your fish friend. I hope you get another when you're ready. If you look around, you can find used tanks and set ups cheap or sometimes even free for something smaller for a betta. As sad as it is that you lost Finlee, It sounds like he may have been quite elderly when he passed, and I can tell by your post that you deeply cared for him.
  • #32
Sorry to hear about Finlee's passing. Have you made up your mind of bringing home a new betta?
  • #33
Three months ago I purchased a male betta fry from Petco. I did not enter the pet store to buy a fish, but was astounded when, while examining the cups, one little guy did not shy away from me. Instead of swimming to the other side of the cup, like nearly all the betta fish I have encountered, he would make a point to swim towards me. I took him home and set up a tank (at that point I was unaware of the nitrogen cycle).
Roy, so as he is now called, is non-aggressive. He has never flared; at a reflection or other male betta fish, despite the fact that he should have already reached sexual maturity, kicking in his aggressive dominance (he's currently around five months old). He's like a dog, and moseys his way up the glass whenever I come in the room; even if he's sleeping under his log. He won't eat unless he's hand fed, and won't go to sleep until I have, too. Otherwise, he sits up and watches me. If I stick my fingers in the tank, he bumps against them with his back, and will follow my finger across the glass. When I walk around the room, he follows me around from inside the tank.
Currently, he's in a 10 gallon aquarium with live plants, a heater and sponge filter, and a black mystery snail. I feed him tubeflex worms, brine shrimp, and blood worms, and yet, he has barely grown at all. That's the oddest bit. Under these circumstances, I would say he is female; but no ovipositor. Did I just get a runty betta with a winning personality, or am I missing something? My family jokes he is a guppy, and though I know that isn't the case, I am perplexed by how little he resembles others in his species, both in personality and looks.

Here is Roy the day I purchased him...

Oh, and he has no physical problem with eating on his own; he'll just refuse to eat if if I don't take the time to feed him by hand. He's that spoiled.


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  • #34
He's not yet sexually mature, his fins haven't started to come in (he looks like a comb tail veil, so his fins might not grow the prettiest). He is still young and needs time to grow. He might be spoiled by being hand fed, but he isn't wanting interaction or stimulation by watching you whenever you are in the room. You can try adding more things for him to play with in the tank like plants or decor (you can drop a shrimp in there to see if he enjoys the company or just tries to eat it, make it a smaller one than him and make sure it is a ghost or cherry shrimp, I never recommend amanos with fish just because I know how they act).
  • #35
Thank you Mcasella!
  • #36
Wish I had good information to offer, but I do just want to say that I love the story of Roy.
  • #37
  • #38
It is definitely veil-tail female, because of the shorter fins.
Here is a pic of a male one for comparison.


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  • #39
Would it be possible for Roy to be female without a visible ovipositor, or are his short fins just attributed to his young age?

If he is actually a she, I would have to rename her Royal
  • #40
It is without a doubt a female one.

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